Microsoft's IllumiRoom Brings Games Outside the TV

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Microsoft's IllumiRoom Brings Games Outside the TV

The Kinect can grant gamers something that years of graphics advancements could not - peripheral vision.

Back in September, Microsoft raised eyebrows when it filed a patent for an "immersive display experience" not unlike the coveted Holodeck. The project seems to be making progress - a prototype of the system, dubbed IllumiRoom, was demoed at the Consumer Electronics Show, and it's not too shabby. A proof of concept video provides a few glimpses of what gaming would look like with IllumiRoom dropping the player right into the middle of the action.

The product utilizes a Kinect for Windows camera to scan the room, mapping the geometry of the environment. During gameplay, a projector located somewhere in the middle of the room splashes images generated by the game across the walls and furniture, effectively creating a range of peripheral vision to immerse players in the world of the game. These effects aren't too detailed - you won't be getting crisp 1080p textures projected onto your TV stand - but they serve their intended purpose of providing context outside of the television itself, which remains the focal point of the play experience.

The demo does not fail to impress. According to the video description, there's no post-processing mumbo-jumbo involved here; all the effects seen are generated in real time by IllumiRoom. The video predictably spends a lot of time showing off first-person shooters enhanced by projections, since the added immersion looks most effective with that up-close-and-personal perspective. Several different modes of projection are used: in some shots the entire environment is projected, giving the action a larger-than-life vibe; other times only particle effects like flames, glowing projectiles, and powerups are visible outside the screen. Weapon fire is emphasized by subtle tremors that expand to jarring quakes in the projected environment, lending considerable weight to the combat on the television. A cart-racing game is also displayed, with the projector creating the illusion of snowflakes falling around the living room to match the snow level on the screen.

Details are scarce on when we'll be able to deploy this technology in our own living rooms, or how much our wallets will hate us for doing so. Microsoft says you'll want to keep an eye out at CHI 2013 in April for more information.

Source: Microsoft, via Technet

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Okay. If this is even half as good in reality as this video shows it. That is fucking awesome. I just imagine running through skyrim or lordran like this... with a 7.1 surround system... wow. immersion = win. kinect just seemed to possibly get worth it.

I am all for this, and would actually throw some money microsofts way for this tech. I like and i approve.

Cognimancer:
The product utilizes a Kinect for Windows camera to scan the room

This sentence had me go from "oh look, another console gimmick coming hot off the success of Steel Battalion!" to raising a single intrigued eyebrow.

To the gentlemen at Microsoft: You have my curiosity. Now let's see if you can get my attention.

The only problem is that the video smacks more than a little of the aforementioned Steel Battalion and its ads:

So it's like gaming on movie theater projector?
Can they make it 3D?

image

I've never been a fan of the X-Box. I prefer Sony's more uniform controller design. But if this works at all as advertised, I may be getting a Next the upcoming console cycle.

Watching this video, I'm left wondering about the graphics processing needed for this. Either this is going to degrade game performance (notice how choppy the clip at the 54 second mark runs?), require a lower television resolution, or require software companies to scale down the quality of games that support this. I'd love to see the technical specs on this system.

...Red Eclipse? Damn, someone at Microsoft must have really dug for that one! That game barely gets full servers of any kind! Of course, the nature of the game being open source probably had a lot to do with why it was picked, but wow! It's actually recognized as a thing by individuals who are not me!

At first I think it looks incredibly-fucking-distracting, but I can definitely see the appeal of it. I should probably just have some more time to get used to it. But I'm awaiting this cautiously, I remember the videos for the "Natal" when it was first announced, it looked like some sort of fucking sci-fi dream.

I have mixed feelings on this. On the one hand, i don't like the idea of them using this to expand your field of view, seems more distracting to me more than anything else.

But on the other, I like how they used it to add to the existing picture (vibrations when shooting, snow falling) just extra effects that add to the picture, not distract from it. That i could get behind.

AlexanderPeregrine:
Watching this video, I'm left wondering about the graphics processing needed for this. Either this is going to degrade game performance (notice how choppy the clip at the 54 second mark runs?), require a lower television resolution, or require software companies to scale down the quality of games that support this. I'd love to see the technical specs on this system.

The technical specs: Xbox 360.
Well, there's the hard word done =P
Seeing as its Kinect, that's what those specs will be. There is a chance it'll be for the Nextbox instead, but I wouldn't bet my money on it.

Interesting as this is I'll wait for it to get popular, then have Nvidia or ATI port it across to PC with their own systems. Will likely end up cheaper, as no Microsoft Brand Name, Better, and doesn't require an outdated console to run. With my new sound system, that will be fun, though it will definitely look weird for anyone not playing the game.

Was pretty surprised to find out that video was not edited in post.

Agree with a lot of other people that it looks more distracting than immersive, but I imagine I might think differently seeing it first hand.

I thought the more subtle effects, like the snow falling, looked pretty neat and would add a nice touch of atmosphere. The more detailed projections don't look as good though. It would be cool with a more minimalist style I think, like a Silent Hill with fog effects projected around your room or something.

AlexanderPeregrine:
Watching this video, I'm left wondering about the graphics processing needed for this.

Joccaren:
The technical specs: Xbox 360.

Guys, really? I know reading the word Kinect instantly creates an association with the Xbox in our brains, but the next word(s) in the article are really important:

Cognimancer:

The product utilizes a Kinect for Windows camera to scan the room, mapping the geometry of the environment.

That's.. pretty damn cool. For once a product that isn't gimmicky. I'll always welcome more viewing screen space. XD

Not so sure about this. I have a feeling the Oculus Rift will be more impressive when it ships. I guess if you're strictly a console gamer this is exciting, but for us glorious PC master race types, the rift will be full immersion with your entire vision in-game.

Well, color me impressed. I'm looking forward to seeing how this piece of technology ends up playing out in the long run. I don't see it hitting the mass market for awhile, sadly.

This looks less immersive and more utterly distracting. Microsoft has a funny idea that putting the player between the action and what's happening on screen - huge, wide-sweeping body movements, and now projected elements against the playspace - creates a sense of immersion, while other companies have very smartly identified that removing the player from the equation with smaller movements like that done with fingers on a controller, and a display that sits between the player and reality rather than projecting against it, the Occulus Rift, achieves better the idea that you have removed yourself from the "real world" and plopped yourself into a virtual one. Everything Microsoft is doing just seems too big, and too grand, when simulated realities really should be small, subtle, and unnoticeable.

I don't get it. It looks like they've aimed a low quality projector at a good quality TV.

If you want an immersive experience, ditch the TV and get a big projector. There are 1080p 3D projectors under $2k now.

This is just a somewhat expanded rip-off of the Philips Ambilight technology that's been around for over a decade now.

But count on Microsoft to try and patent an idea they stole from someone else.

I bet 50 bucks that this will be messy and won't work as intended.

I'm not convinced about it. Unless this is included in the next Xbox I doubt many people will get it.
Also were they proper games because I liked the look of them both. (the kart racer had a diddy kong vibe to me).

Narcogen:
I don't get it. It looks like they've aimed a low quality projector at a good quality TV.

If you want an immersive experience, ditch the TV and get a big projector. There are 1080p 3D projectors under $2k now.

Agreed.

Looks like Microsoft is really gunning for the immersive factor by pumping money into flashy stuff. I like the idea don't get me wrong, but I strongly feel something is off when we have to depend on external factors like the kinect and it's appendages for a immersive experience.

On one hand, it can be argued that big is really nice and the tech is great, but like Narcogen said, go get a good projector. And as for tech, I'm a cynic on that aspect as these sort of things tend to get abused as a cash cow - I'm looking at you, Armoured Battalion.

Good writing and gameplay design should be the focus. I'm very sure the Escapist community can name more than I have played that not only engaged the player, but allowed us to be part of it.

We have a brain. Let's use it.

Captcha: good grief. Indeed.

Blablahb:
This is just a somewhat expanded rip-off of the Philips Ambilight technology that's been around for over a decade now.

But count on Microsoft to try and patent an idea they stole from someone else.

Narcogen:
I don't get it. It looks like they've aimed a low quality projector at a good quality TV.

If you want an immersive experience, ditch the TV and get a big projector. There are 1080p 3D projectors under $2k now.

Akimoto:

Agreed.
On one hand, it can be argued that big is really nice and the tech is great, but like Narcogen said, go get a good projector. And as for tech, I'm a cynic on that aspect as these sort of things tend to get abused as a cash cow - I'm looking at you, Armoured Battalion.

Ok, so you simply don't get it. :) Projector or ambilight simply puts 2D image on the wall, and because of furniture etc. it will look like sh!t. Now this lttle thing scans the room, and projects image accordingly to how furniture etc. is placed, so you get 3D like effect.

That is absolutely amazing. Other recent ideas like motion controls and 3D hold no interest to me. They add nothing worthwhile to gaming, beyond looking like a pillock and cheap "oohs" and "aahs" at the expense of headaches, respectively. This on the other hand takes the game world, and immerses us further into it. The little things like the projectiles and snow in particular looked incredible.

Credit to microsoft on this one; they might be thieving arseholes who allow hackers to steal money from their customers and with whom I shall never again spend a penny on Live, but I would invest in the hardware for that experience.

Blablahb:
This is just a somewhat expanded rip-off of the Philips Ambilight technology that's been around for over a decade now.

But count on Microsoft to try and patent an idea they stole from someone else.

They aren't even remotely related, except insofar as both technologies project light. Philips Ambilight is simply to soften the edges of the image to save eye strain when watching in a dark environment. This apparently brings the game world out of the rectangle and adds a huge level of immersion, incorporating the physical room and space into the virtual ennvironment.

Technically speaking, Ambilight provides a small array of colour extending from the on-screen image, projects from the back of the TV and requires a wall behind to even provide its functionality (whose merit and worth one can fairly question). This uses a projector over an entire room whose geometry is mapped and effects are reportedly rendered in real-time.

The Microsoft tech has as much in common with Ambilight as does using a torch to project hand shadow-puppets on the wall.

Let alone the fact that this obviously needs to be used in a DARK room: This is likely going to lead into some eye health hazards.

It won't be a fraction as effective as they are trying to show here, in fact, it'll be Kinect all over again.

So stop throwing money at the screen and being surprised that nothing is happening. You will only be disapointed, and the human race will be disapointed in you for throwing money at another microsoft gimmock.

1. Projectors would shine on your TV/Monitor, most displays can't deal with a bit of sunshine, never mind thousand lumens projectors.
2. Every particle of dust in your room will be highlighted, and that'll be more distracting than the actual effect they're going for.
3. Projectors are expensive, projectors that can effectively produce the necessary viewing angle at an acceptable distance are damn expensive.
4. We'd have to have a projecter dangling above our heads, like the sword of Damocles, just waiting on our dodgy roof-mount DIY abortions giving out... We laughed when Wiimotes got thrown into TV screens, we won't laugh when a projector splits our fricken head open.

Peripheral vision might be best kept for what nature intended, avoiding cats and spotting big fuckoff spiders.

Don't get me wrong, it's a nice idea, it's just a shame that technology and reality get involved. Also, was that freaking MarioKart!, are Microsoft trying to suggest that this will work with any game, on any console? - if so, for shame Microsoft, preying on the weak of mind yet again.

Wow, that looked amazing. Even if you would find it distracting during an FPS or somesuch, I think it would be incredibly immersive when used in more story-focused games, when trying to re-create a cinematic feel:

- sad event happens in story, rain starts to slowly poor... on your living room wall, with the sad music playing.
- It's snowing in the game, it's snowing on your wall

Just great for little visual cues like that, if anything.

Hell, you could probably full out extend that to films too.

surg3n:
Also, was that freaking MarioKart!

No, it was another Kart-Racer. It was just there to show that it is not only for FPS.

You know what other technology would grant gamers peripheral visions? Head-mounted displays.

You know what technology wouldn't leave furniture-shaped shadows all around your peripheral vision? Head-mounted displays.

You know what doesn't need you to darken a whole room to surround yourself with a video game space? Head-mounted displays.

Seriously, Microsoft, stop playing around with projectors and start making some virtual reality helmets, or you will get left behind by Oculus and Valve in the field of fully immersive VR, and by Google in the field of "plastering shiny pictures over your living room" kind of AR.

Entitled:
You know what other technology would grant gamers peripheral visions? Head-mounted displays.

You know what technology wouldn't leave furniture-shaped shadows all around your peripheral vision? Head-mounted displays.

You know what doesn't need you to darken a whole room to surround yourself with a video game space? Head-mounted displays.

Seriously, Microsoft, stop playing around with projectors and start making some virtual reality helmets, or you will get left behind by Oculus and Valve in the field of fully immersive VR, and by Google in the field of "plastering shiny pictures over your living room" kind of AR.

I'd much rather have a projector somewhere on my wall so I can sit down and play as opposed to having to fit a headset over my head.

image

It still isn't going to convince me to get a Kinect (unless they drop dramatically in price) but this is a pretty cool little gimmick. It certainly makes a better case for immersion than 3D. That is, if it looks anywhere near as good in reality as it does in that video.

It looks good but in practice I believe it's going to be more trouble that it's worth.

I'm really interested in this.

I usually HATE first person shooter because to me it has always felt like you're running around with blinders on - the human eye doesn't work the same way as the TV does, it's obvious... and because of this, I always found FPS game to be highly un-immersive.

This could really help with that.

Elithraradril:

Blablahb:
This is just a somewhat expanded rip-off of the Philips Ambilight technology that's been around for over a decade now.

But count on Microsoft to try and patent an idea they stole from someone else.

Narcogen:
I don't get it. It looks like they've aimed a low quality projector at a good quality TV.

If you want an immersive experience, ditch the TV and get a big projector. There are 1080p 3D projectors under $2k now.

Akimoto:

Agreed.
On one hand, it can be argued that big is really nice and the tech is great, but like Narcogen said, go get a good projector. And as for tech, I'm a cynic on that aspect as these sort of things tend to get abused as a cash cow - I'm looking at you, Armoured Battalion.

Ok, so you simply don't get it. :) Projector or ambilight simply puts 2D image on the wall, and because of furniture etc. it will look like sh!t. Now this lttle thing scans the room, and projects image accordingly to how furniture etc. is placed, so you get 3D like effect.

You assume it will work exactly as intended, big mistake. It's highly likely they only recorded the footage at certain angles where the "3D" wasn't fucked up, and sliced out ALOT of footage that most people will get most of the time. This is probably going to end up like the 3DS all over again, good 3D in the advertising, but in practice you need to have your head at one exact angle for it to work and I doubt it will really add to the immersion to see outlines of the area you are in.

OT: If there's one thing that bothers me it's that it looks improperly balanced in the FPS(game, not technical), you have his normal sized TV showing what matters(read: the screen that is most important), and you have the huge fucking hologram showing some fancy effects that will probably distract rather than help.

charge52:

You assume it will work exactly as intended,(...)

Not really but I believe the idea is right and even if MS doesn't pull it off, than maybe other companies will bring better implementation as a high-end gamer accessory for example.

Elithraradril:

charge52:

You assume it will work exactly as intended,(...)

Not really but I believe the idea is right and even if MS doesn't pull it off, than maybe other companies will bring better implementation as a high-end gamer accessory for example.

A lot of people thought the same thing about the Wii's motion controls, Nintendo's didn't work, Sony's didn't work, and Microsoft's attempt was just a reattempt of the failed Sony Eye toy which doesn't work either. The technology required is no doubt expensive as hell, and programming would take forever because it has to adapt to the room no matter how it is decorated. So even if someone improves the idea, it probably won't be happening for quite a while now. No matter how I look at this, this is going to fail, technologically at least. Sales will probably be great since there are going to be a lot of people who don't research stuff they see on TV who will buy either way.

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